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Six Months Later, BoardEx Revisits Saudi Aramco and Its Board

By Alexandra Garfinkle

View the data visualization here. 

In December 2019, Saudi Aramco Oil Co. filed for its blockbuster IPO, the largest in history, though not without a spate of caveats for instance, the oil giant, which had initially set its sights on an international debut in London or New York, ended up listed in Riyadh, on the Saudi Stock Exchange. 

Now, six months later and in a very different world, BoardEx is re-shining a light on state-backed Saudi Aramco and its competition, taking another look at the company’s board, and the boards of its top competitors. 

The following chart compares Saudi Aramco to its chief competitors, Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Chevron Corp. (CVX), Royal Dutch Shell plc, Total SA (TOT), ConocoPhillips (COP) and BP plc (BP).

A note on the chart:

  1. The y-axis refers to the total number of sector backgrounds of a company’s board
  2. The x-axis represents the depth of oil and gas-specific experience that a company’s board members have.

The size of the bubble references market capitalization and the larger a bubble, the larger the company’s market cap. Ergo, looking at this graph, Saudi Aramco is by far, the biggest oil producer by market cap, followed with some distance by Exxon and Chevron.

What this reveals about Saudi Aramco’s board is quite clear though Saudi Aramco’s board members have the deepest experience in oil and gas, they also have the least diverse sector backgrounds of all the companies analyzed. 

Comparatively, Irving, Texas-based Exxon’s bubble is far to the right on the chart, which suggests that Exxon prizes and pursues board members with diverse backgrounds. In fact, Exxon CEO Darren Woods, who took the helm in 2017, is the only member of the company’s board that does have a background in the oil and gas world. 

Since its IPO, Saudi Aramco has made one change to its board, taking a solitary step away from the oil and gas-centric board backgrounds of its directors. On April 5, Mark Weinberg, the former CEO of Ernst & Young LLP, replaced Andrew Gould, a long-time oil industry executive, on Saudi Aramco’s board, according to a company announcement at the time.

Finally, a word on how Saudi Aramco has fared during COVID-19 — though the company took a hit when, in early March, Saudi Arabia and Russia became embroiled in an oil price war. However, Saudi Aramco’s stock has since recovered, while shares of its competitors have, comparatively, languished, as the company continues to be led by a board with deep experience in the oil and gas sector. 

Follow Alexandra Garfinkle on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Data analysis completed by Alex Architektonidis, follow him on LinkedIn.